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Fall colors are now at or near peak through much of southern and central Wisconsin, though some areas are still reporting colors at only 50 percent, so good color may last through another week or more in some spots. In the north colors are past peak and strong winds and rain brought down a lot of leaves this week, but tamaracks are showing their golden glow and the oaks are in many shades of red, rust and brown.
The nice weather over the past weekend provided many youth deer hunters with successful hunts, with many nice photos of young hunters with their deer posted to the DNR Facebook page. Archers are reporting good deer movement lately with the damp weather, and deer scrapes and rubs are on the rise, indicating pre-rutting activity is stepping up and peak rutting activity could begin in about two weeks.
Woodcock seemed to be migrating last weekend with a northwestern wind, high pressure and a near full moon, but mostly still farther north. With leaves dropping lots more grouse were being seen. Bear hunting is now closed and some really nice bears were harvested, but this year's bountiful acorn crop made hunting more of a challenge.
The wolf hunting and trapping season opened this week and additional hunting opportunities open this Saturday, Oct. 18 including pheasant, cottontail rabbit, raccoon, fox and the late southern duck and goose seasons. As in the past, pre-season pheasant stocking is done on designated properties. A listing of stocked properties is on the pheasant hunting section of the DNR website.
Musky continue to be the main highlight for anglers in the Wisconsin Northwoods. Fishing has been generally good to excellent, with suckers providing most of the action. Fall walleye fishing on river systems has been picking up with some action on the Wisconsin, Chippewa, Menominee and Fox rivers as well as Lake Wisconsin.
Along Lake Michigan, anglers along northern tributaries, including the Ahnapee, Kewaunee, East and West Twin, Manitowoc and Sheboygan, continue to have high success as the chinook salmon are at the peak of their spawning run. Farther south, anglers were having success on the Milwaukee but many other tributaries were running low with fewer numbers of fish reported.
A lot more migratory Canada geese arrived this week on southern Wisconsin marshes and a large number of diving ducks such as scaup and redhead, canvasback, ring neck and ruddy ducks are also showing up. Dark-eyed juncos arrived in the area this week. Blackbirds and robins have been flocking up in preparation for travels south and turkey vultures are also gathering with as many as 200 to 400 vultures soaring over the Devil's Lake bluffs at times.
Asters, sunflowers and fall grasses such as big bluestem are still showing some color.
This weekend there are more than half a dozen Halloween events being held at state park and forest properties, including candlelight hikes, jack-o"-lanterns, bonfires and costume contests. Search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors" for a complete list of activities.
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) -
Musky continue to be the main highlight for anglers in the Wisconsin Northwoods. Fishing has been generally good to excellent, with suckers providing most of the action. Artificial baits have been catching a few musky but most of these have been smaller fish in the 30 to 38 inch size. The nicest fish have been coming on large suckers - with some 40-inch-plus musky being caught on 15 inch or bigger suckers. Look for this trend to continue as the fall season progresses, with the trophy potential getting better as the season winds down toward its closing on Nov. 30. Walleye fishing has continued to be erratic, with some days producing decent catches of fish and other days providing very little action. A minnow on a slip bobber and slow-hopped jig and minnow combinations have shown the best success, with cloudy days often producing some good action during the daytime hours. Panfish success has also been sporadic, with a few fair catches of perch and crappie being reported. Some nice perch have been caught on the mid-depth mud flats, and crappies have been found suspended over deep water cover. Bass fishing has been very slow and most anglers have given up on them for the year. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The wind and rain are taking its toll on the fall color, but many pockets of color are still beautifying the eye of the beholder. The tamaracks in Powel Marsh are turning their golden glow and the oaks are showing many shades of red, rust and brown. Green and gold--just like the Packers--is still the fall theme! Buffalo, Cunard, East Star, Plum, Sandy Beach, South Trout, Starrett and Upper Gresham campgrounds are all closed for the season. The remaining campgrounds have moved to self-registration until the snow flies. The Crystal Lake Nature Center is now closed. Dump stations are being drained of water this week, but will still be available for dumping without flush water for the fall. Shower facilities are also being shut down for the season. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Marinette County - A few walleye and salmon caught below the dam on the Peshtigo River last week. High water kept fishing pressure low. No fishing activity was observed at Little River. Walleye are being caught below the dam on the Menominee River using jigs, fishing near the dam, and stick baits off the Fishermen's Walkway. Salmon can be seen jumping below the Hattie Street Dam but few are being caught. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Some panfish were still being caught below the Dam at Stiles but due to high water fishing pressure was low. Some perch are being caught in and around the boat landings at Oconto Breakwater Park, the Municipal Landing, and Oconto Park II. Many of the fish are small. The boat landings in Oconto were dominated by waterfowl hunters, few fishermen were out in boats. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - The Metro boat launch was a popular place this past weekend (though many of the boats were waterfowl hunters). The fishing boats interviewed were all after musky. Half of them landed Wisconsin's state fish. The largest reported was 44 inches. Bucktails in 12 feet of water or less is the most common approach. The metro boat launch is repairing docks from Oct. 6-Nov. 14. While there are open docks, you may have to wait a bit if there are several boats and only a couple docks open at a given time. Shore anglers at the mouth were finding decent luck on walleye this week. Averages sizes were in the 17-22 inch range. Crank baits are catching the most fish. Fishing worms off the bottom with a sinker landed anglers several different species of fish including...catfish, freshwater drum, carp, white bass and one bass was reported at 17 inches. While the fairground boat launches are not as used as others in the area this time of year, there were a few Fox River walleye anglers taking advantage of them this week. Success was mixed. Bouncing jigs, casting cranks and trolling were all methods used by Fox River walleye boats. Walleye anglers in Voyager Park continue to enjoy good catch numbers. Cranks and jigs were landing the most fish. Most of the walleye caught are in the 17-20 inch range, although later in the week a few walleye up to 24 inches were also reported. Primarily due to the consumption advisories on the Fox River fish, many anglers are releasing what they catch; especially larger ones. Anglers fishing for catfish at Voyager Park reported no luck. Boaters fishing from the Duck Creek ramps enjoyed success catching yellow perch in high numbers. While a few of the fish were reported around 9-10 inches, most of them remain rather small (4-6 inches). Average size of boaters' perch this week was 8.2 inches, with the largest measuring 9.3 inches. Crawler pieces under a bobber remain a go-to method. Perhaps larger minnows would keep the smaller perch off of fishermen's hooks. Duck Creek shore anglers had mixed results. While some had trouble catching a handful, others reported catches of 15 to 30 fish. Once again finding decent sized perch took anglers a little bit of time and patience. Crawler chunks were the most popular bait. Other fish caught this week off the shores of Duck Creek were round gobies and a couple small northern pike. The high winds toward the middle of the week continued to hold the water at less than good visibility at Bayshore Park. Luckily, the calm waters over the weekend allowed for a slight increase in clarity. Water temps in the area hover around 53-55 degrees. - John Taylor and Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technicians, Green Bay
Door County - Beautiful weather throughout the week brought anglers out in high numbers. High winds created rough conditions for boaters; however, shore angling pressure was high. On the bay side of the peninsula, anglers targeting walleye were successful out of the Stone Quarry using flicker minnows. Anglers also had some luck targeting pike out of Sturgeon Bay. While spinners and crank baits were the most popular lures for pike, crank baits seemed to produce the most results. The perch bite has greatly picked up in the past week. Decent numbers were being caught in Sawyer Harbor out of Sturgeon Bay, some reaching 13.5 inches! Perch seemed to be hitting best on minnows. Smallmouth bass are still being caught from shore around the peninsula; however, the bite has slowed. Popular smallmouth bass lures that are showing results include tubes and nightcrawlers. The salmon bite in Lake Michigan has slowed greatly as mature salmon are running up the streams to spawn. Water temps have ranged from 49 degrees in Whitefish Bay Creek, down to 45 degrees in Hibbard's Creek. Flow rate has dropped slightly in the past week, and clarity remains moderate. Salmon have been seen from the road in Shivering Sands Creek, Hibbard's Creek, and Hein's Creek. While they generally appeared uninterested when presented with a lure, there have been a few anglers still targeting them with spawn sacs. Chinook salmon were reportedly caught from shore in Bailey's Harbor. - Aaron Suehring, Fisheries Technician, Northern Lake Michigan
Anglers in the area around Sawyer Harbor continue to have mixed results. Perch anglers reported catching a good number of fish; however, sizes continued to be small. One boat reported catching 60-plus fish, but only finding 17 keepers. Minnows fished just off bottom in 28-35 feet of water produced the best numbers. Smallmouth anglers had a harder time this week. Tubes and buzz baits were the technique of choice, with two reports of 5-plus-pound fish. Unfortunately, fish were few and far between. Northern pike anglers continued to have success along the shoreline of Potawatomi State Park. Trolling cranks, just off shore, in 7-10 feet of water produced the largest size and numbers of catches. Water temps in the area could be found anywhere from 52-61 degrees and water clarity is very good. Salmon anglers are fishing the Sturgeon Bay ship canal and catching some chinook salmon. Anglers are using both artificial and real spawn sacks. A few walleye anglers were still hitting the water with success trolling or casting from shore at night seems to produce the biggest fish. Little Sturgeon Bay continued to see a good number of perch anglers and a fair amount of fish. Minnows fished just off bottom are the dominant technique of choice with good numbers of fish being found in 12-15 feet of water. Most sizes continue to be small; however, anglers are beginning to report larger fish being caught in the mix. The midweek weather has caused a lot of movement in the schools of fish, but once they are located, anglers are having a hard time keeping two poles in the water. Very low numbers of both walleye and bass were reported though the end of the week. Water temps in the area are highly mixed based on location in the bay, with some areas near 63 degree while others not reporting anything above 52 degrees. Water clarity continued to be very good. Like the rest of the east shore, Chaudoir's dock was heavy hit with waves towards the middle of the week and the water clarity in the area continued to be poor. The weekend did bring some settling back and by Sunday night clarity returned to average. Water temperatures in the area range from 52-55 degrees. Door County will begin dredging in the Chaudoir's dock area on Oct. 22 restricting all access to the pier. - John Taylor and Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technicians, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - Anglers in both Kewaunee and Algoma have been having high success on the rivers as the chinook salmon are at the peak of their spawning run. Anglers in Kewaunee are mostly concentrated from footbridge up to Bruemmer Park and are using spawn, artificial spawn, spoons and fly fishing with success. The Kewaunee River is 48 degrees, normal height and flow and has good clarity. In Algoma anglers are finding the best success below the Forestville Dam, but some success has been reported at different spots along the river. The anglers trying their luck from the piers in the Algoma and Kewaunee have been low with low success reported. Anglers are throwing spoons, stick baits and spawn sacks to try to get a bite. In Algoma the catches have been rainbow trout, king salmon, and brown trout. Anglers on the lake have been low and are catching rainbow, brown trout and the occasional silver kings. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - Anglers in the Manitowoc Marina have had success with king salmon, rainbow, brown trout, and northern pike, casting spoons and spawn sacks. Anglers launching in Manitowoc have had moderate success catching silver/non-spawning king salmon, lake trout, and coho salmon in 90-120 feet of water on flasher flies and spoons, with green and sliver being the most productive. Smallmouth bass anglers have had success in the interior of the harbor and along the piers with good success for casting plugs and soft plastics. On the Manitowoc River anglers are having success with chinook salmon at Manitou Park and Rapids along with upstream through Cato Falls and up to Clark Mills dam, casting spawn, flies and spoons. Anglers on the branch river are having success for smallmouth bass and chinook salmon. Anglers on the East Twin River in search of chinook salmon and brown trout are having success using spawn, yarn balls and casting cleos and spoons. Anglers on the West Twin River are having success in Shoto below the dam for chinook salmon. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Close to an inch and a half of rain fell overnight on Monday and strong winds followed. Lots of leaves have fallen and visibility is improving for bird hunters. Wolf season opens on Oct. 15 and many furbearer seasons open this weekend as well. Woodcock seemed to be migrating last weekend with a northwest wind, high pressure and a near full moon. Lots of grouse are being seen using fringe areas with winterberries and/or hawthorn. Deer hunters are again reminded that Marinette County is managed in two zones. Please read the regulations closely and look the map over carefully to determine what area you will be hunting and what tags you can use. Farmland tags may not be used in the northern forest zone. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Shawano County - The colors are at peak. The temps are cooling. The fields are being harvested. Fishing is really good right now and there is very little pressure. Bear hunting just closed and some really nice bears were harvested but with so many acorns falling bears were difficult to see this year. Archery hunters are having good luck with some nice deer being taken. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Governor Thompson State Park - The fall colors are past peak, but still beautiful this week on the trails and in the campgrounds. Turkeys with their poults are frequently seen feeding along Paust Lane. The boat launch facilities are still open at Caldron Falls Flowage. The boat landing has two ramps, boarding dock, restrooms, picnic area and fishing pier. Woods Lake and Huber Lake are carry-in, no motor lakes. The East loop of the campground will stay open until Dec. 2. The North and South campgrounds and shower building are closed for the season. The dump station remains open, but there is no flush water and campers can fill their units with fresh water in the campground by either vault toilet. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Whitefish Dunes State Park - Fall colors are here and is a great time to take a hike to see the changing colors of the park. Now is an excellent time to hike the red trail to the top of Old Baldy to look out over the tree tops. Lots of turkey and pileated woodpecker sightings. Come join staff and the Friends of Whitefish Dunes for the fall volunteer work day Saturday Oct. 25. Help clean the park up from a busy summer and get the park ready for winter. Projects are mostly outdoors. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. with lunch provided for volunteers at noon. Advanced sign-up greatly appreciated by contacting the Nature Center 920-823-2400. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Fall colors are still out, but past peak. Woodcock hunting has been very slow; reports still have the birds at Florence County and points farther north. There's much better conditions for grouse hunting now that the underbrush has lost most of its leaves. Good deer movement lately with the damp weather. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
High Cliff State Park - Fall color is limited to individual trees and we are not past peak. The wind continues to keep small boats off the lake on the far northeast shore. Sailboats have been tucked away for the winter in the High Cliff Marina. Wind surfers have been enjoying the waves and are giving viewers some heart-stopping entertainment. Many hunters have inquired about the deer archery season coming up in November and the Muzzleloader Hunt during the nine day gun season. All hunters who plan to hunt at High Cliff are encouraged to contact the Park Manager for specific rules and regulations and boundary information. - Cynthia Mueller, naturalist
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Milwaukee County - Remember to attend Milwaukee County's Deer Advisory Council to provide public input on the state of Milwaukee County's deer herd at the Milwaukee DNR Service Center on Wednesday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. Search "CDAC" on the DNR webpage for more details. Hunting season is in full swing, with Oct. 18 marking the date pheasant, cottontail rabbit, raccoon, and other seasons open. Keep your eyes open for other urban wildlife, such as coyotes, fox, and songbirds, as the leaves drop all over the County. - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist & regional educator, Waukesha
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Pike Lake Unit - The trail conditions at Pike Lake are in good hiking conditions. There may be some wet areas due to the rain that we have been receiving. The campground and all campground facilities are still open, but the campground will be closing for the season on Oct. 19. Swim area buoys have been removed for the season. - Rob Wessberg, forest supervisor
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - Peak colors have arrived this week. Rain and wind have been driving down some of the leaves, but there will still be plenty of color and beautiful conditions along and trails and Scenic Drive this coming weekend. A few moderate frosts have driven down the bug population, and mosquitos are minimal. Geese, blackbirds and robins have been flocking up in preparation for travels south. The horse and mountain bike trails are open, but riders should use caution due to leaf litter and wet conditions. We ask that riders refrain from using the trails within 12 hours of a rain event, to prevent long-term damage. The summer flooding has left a few muddy stretches on the Tamarack Nature trail, but the hiking trails in general are in great shape. The New Fane and Zillmer trails have been recently mowed, and the Bridle and Greenbush trails will be mowed one more time this fall to prepare for winter ski and snowmobile season. Halloween Nature Hikes will be held Oct. 17 and 18, 6:30-9:30 p.m., Long Lake Recreation Area. Join us for a torch-lit hike, as we explore predator versus prey relationships. This is not a scary hike, and is best for those over five years of age. Guided, hour-long hikes leave every six minutes until 8:30 p.m. Before or after your hike, enjoy playing fun-filled games, making a craft to take home, or snacking by the glow of a campfire. The event is free, but a State Park Sticker is required. The tepee at Mauthe Lake Campground has been taken down for the season, but the remainder of the campground is reservable through Oct. 25. The 100-400 campsites will be available for first-come, first-served camping through winter. Flush toilets and showers will remain open until freezing weather sets in, approximately Nov. 3. Long Lake Campground - has closed for the season. - Deb Harder, visitor services associate
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan, there were some anglers that headed straight east of the ramp in 90-275 feet of water and had success catching both rainbow trout and lake trout. The rainbows and lake trout were being caught using planer boards and down riggers, best presentations have been using orange, watermelon, and silver and blue spoons. Shore anglers have been fishing off of the docks at the boat ramp near Deland Marina anglers there have been having some luck picking up a few chinook and coho salmon. Anglers are having success catching fish with a three inch plastic minnow that is jigged along bottom. Most anglers are using small crank baits or spawn fished beneath a float set at 8-10 feet down, most anglers are catching a few chinooks and coho salmon early or late in the day. There are numerous fish that are jumping off of the piers, but anglers are having a difficult time getting them to bite. On the Sheboygan River there have been reports of large chinook salmon caught behind Nemschoff on spinner baits and bobber rigs with skein. There are also many chinook salmon being caught upstream of Esslingen Park. The best way to fish the skein is cast the bait into a deep pocket of the river and allow the bait to drift downstream, fly anglers are having the best luck drifting egg imitations into deep runs and pools of the river they have been catching a mixed bag of chinook salmon and brown trout.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington very few anglers had much success fishing the south pier over the weekend; anglers were casting spoons, crank-baits, and soaking spawn sacs with minimal luck. Anglers fishing along the west slip wall near the power plant had success catching smaller brown trout and some larger brown trout; anglers using a three way rig hooked with spawn had the best luck. There were also a few coho salmon and brown trout caught near the WE energies discharge; the coho salmon and brown trout were also caught on a three way rig hooked with skein or spawn sacs. In the north slip, small blue/red crank baits were successful in catching a few chinook salmon along with a bobber and spawn rig fished off bottom was very successful, catching large chinook salmon off the rocks around the marina as well. Boat trollers have been fishing in 150-200 feet of water and catching some rainbow trout and lake trout, anglers have had success using planer boards and down riggers most anglers are fishing down riggers set at around 20-30 feet down. Bright colored magnum spoons and flasher/flies were the best lures. In Sauk Creek anglers have been fishing near the mouth of the creek having some success. These anglers are using small spinner baits in orange or chartreuse; spawn fished along bottom has also taken a few fish.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee traffic on McKinley Pier was slow over the weekend, with only a few fish recorded caught. Anglers reported seeing lots of fish jumping inside the harbor but few are interested in bait of any kind. High winds over the weekend also made the pier a less than favorable location to fish. Boat traffic at McKinley Ramp was low over the weekend with cold and windy conditions over much of the week keeping most boaters indoors. Some anglers reported success earlier in the week trolling under the Hoan Bridge but said catch rates dropped significantly toward the end of the week. Fishing along the north city shoreline has been relatively high over the weekend with large numbers of anglers fishing under the Hoan Bridge and in McKinley Marina. Anglers in McKinley Marina have reported chinooks biting on brightly colored flys and spawn inside the marina, although most fish appear uninterested in bait. Anglers under the Hoan Bridge reported good catch rates of small perch throughout the week, although salmon and trout have been less common. Anglers along the Milwaukee River have been congregating in large numbers in Kletzsch and Caesar's Parks for the salmon run, anglers have reported the best success with spoons in Caesar's Park and brightly colored flies in Kletzsch and Estabrook Park by the falls. The Menomonee River and Oak Creek are still rather low since the last large rainfall and only a few salmon have been seen and caught. Some anglers have reported success catching pan fish by MMSD and Virginia Ave. with minnows getting the most bites. The rain this week should draw up a lot of fish into the area rivers later this week.
Racine County - Boat traffic at the Pershing Park boat launch was low during the week but the catch rate increased. Nice catches of brown trout were landed in 30-40 feet of water with spoons being the most productive lures. Fishing pressure on the piers was low during the week. Large trout and salmon have been jumping near the South Pier but they were 200-300 feet offshore and out of casting range. Schools of small brown trout were swimming next to North Pier on Saturday but anglers fishing with skein and spoons had no luck catching them. A large number of trout and salmon have been staging along the shoreline and in the mouth of the Root River over the past 3-4 weeks. Anglers reported seeing trout and salmon jumping all week long in ReefPoint Marina and in the Pershing Park boat harbor. Nice catches of chinook salmon and brown trout were landed in the marina this week with skein fished on the bottom and under bobbers. A couple of nice size king salmon were landed in the Pershing Park boat harbor during the week on black/silver flicker shads. Anglers had better luck landing fish around sunrise, sunset, and throughout the night. The shoreline along the mouth of the Root River is normally one of the hot spots to catch chinook salmon at this time of year but the catch rate has tapered off recently. The surface water temperature at the lakefront was 55F on Saturday.
Waukesha DNR Service Center area
Waukesha County - Deer scraping activity is on the rise. Waterfowl hunters have had great success at Paradise Valley Wildlife Area. Users of the Bark River Unit are encouraged to park on the gravel in the parking area and not on the shoulders of the entrance lane as these areas are private property. Dove activity has slowed after recent cold fronts. Pheasant season opens this weekend. Hunters are encouraged to scout wildlife areas for suitable pheasant cover including grasslands adjacent to shrubby wetlands, as these are the areas most likely to be stocked. - Kelly VanBeek, wildlife biologist, Waukesha
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Washington County - The colors are starting to peak in southeast Wisconsin. The beautiful weather has brought many travelers to the Holy Hill and Kettle Moraine area of Washington County to view the vibrant colors. The nice weather over the past weekend provided goose, duck and youth deer hunters with successful hunts. Panfishing has been good on area lakes as fishermen venture out on area lakes in the nice weather. Fishermen have been working the warmer shallow areas of lakes and are catching bass along with pan fish. Pheasant and rabbit hunters are getting ready for the season opener which starts on Oct. 18 at noon. - Robert Lee, conservation warden, Hartford
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - We're past "peak" of fall colors locally but scenery is still beautiful and worth getting out. The weather forecast for this weekend looks nice for a drive or hike. A lot more migratory Canada geese arrived this week on and around Theresa Marsh. Goose hunters will have their best success if they scout for crop fields where the geese are feeding and ask permission from landowners to set up decoys. Several thousand geese are on Theresa Marsh at night and during mid-day. The best time to view geese flying into the marsh is just before sundown. Viewing opportunities for ducks, sandhill cranes, herons, egrets and other birds are also excellent right now along Hwy 28 just west of Hwy 41, and from the scenic overlook along Mohawk Rd. west of Hwy 41 on the east side of Theresa Marsh. This week we've seen a variety of duck species on the marsh (mostly wood ducks and mallards, but also some pintails and other dabblers and divers), and one swan, possibly a trumpeter. As in the past, pre-season pheasant stockings are done on designated properties prior to the Saturday pheasant season opener. In Washington County, Theresa, Allenton and Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area all receive stocked pheasants. The properties are closed to pheasant hunting after 2 p.m. each weekday beginning Monday, Oct. 20 through Friday, Oct 31. All-day pheasant hunting is allowed on weekends. A listing of stocked properties and the total number of birds each property receives is on the pheasant hunting section of the DNR website. Pheasant hunters, other upland game hunters, hikers and other property users are highly encouraged to wear blaze orange or another highly visible color while hunting or recreating during the open hunting seasons to increase overall safety. We ask hunters and dog owners to please refrain from "running your dogs" on stocked areas prior to the Saturday pheasant opener so that the birds have a better chance of remaining in the fields where they were stocked and are still available to hunters during the Saturday opener. Deer rutting activity may be starting to pick up. We're still a couple weeks away from peak rutting activity in our southern counties. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
South Central Region
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
New Glarus Woods State Park - The forest colors are nearing peak. Lots of walnuts, acorns and hickory nuts can be found as they fall from the branches. Birds can be seen in groups preparing for migration. Late summer and fall wildflowers such as asters are in bloom and fox, raccoons and deer move about enjoying the cold evenings and warm days. Asters and other fall wildflowers are in late bloom. - Brad Bates, ranger
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Dodge County - A large number of diving ducks are showing up in Dodge County. Redheads, canvasback, ring neck, scaup and ruddy ducks have been seen. Wood duck numbers are still high on rivers in Dodge County. - Paul Nell, conservation warden, Horicon
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - There are reports that the fall fish bite is starting again on Lake Wisconsin and on the river as well. Numerous boats checked this weekend all reporting good success. Youth deer hunters were out this weekend and many archery hunters were sent in to get their blaze orange clothing. Wardens would like to remind archery hunters that if they are hunting from an elevated stand to please consider using safety harnesses to keep from falling out of the stand. Wardens responded to such an incident this past weekend and the archer did not survive his fall. Had they been using one, the outcome would have been much different.- Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Sauk County - Fishing recently has been good for panfish on the Wisconsin River with anglers seeing success using twister tails, crappie jigs, wax worms and minnows for crappie and worms for bluegill. Walleye fishing has had slow bite however anglers are having success in the early morning and evenings. Deer hunters should see plenty of deer this season and for those looking to hit the peak of the rut it looks like Nov. 4 through 10 are the dates to be hunting. As we progress into the fall and anglers and hunters take to the water and woods it's important to remember some safety steps to take. Water temperatures are starting to drop, which means it's important make sure your boat has enough life jackets on board and better yet, on you. As the temperatures drop more clothing is normally worn to stay warm, which means swimming difficulty increases and you are less buoyant. In addition archery season is upon us and the rut is fast approaching. Remember when going to the woods let someone know where your hunting and when you will be returning. More injuries occur from tree stand falls so always wear a safety harness and maintain three points of contact at all times when climbing in and out of your tree stand. - Jonah Lottig, conservation warden, Wisconsin Dells
Devil's Lake State Park - Even though it was a soggy start to the week, the weather has cooperated to show off the beautiful fall colors here at Devil's Lake. The color is about 50 percent in most places now - the south bluff is still slow to change and still has a ways to go before it's in full color. The entrance road trees are a beautiful yellow. The rain didn't knock down the leaves, so there is a lot of fall to enjoy here at the park. The coots remain on the lake and can be found in Messenger Creek at times. There has not been other sightings of waterfowl at the lake. Some migrants are moving through, especially kinglets. Turkeys have been spotted along the trails and the turkey vultures have been gathering in the area as well. It will be any day now the vultures will migrate from the park and head south for the winter. If you catch it at the right time, you can spot 200 to 400 vultures soaring over the bluffs. - Sue Johansen, natural resources educator
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
Willow River State Park - We are experiencing moderate fall color change. The river and lake are running slightly higher than normal; however, fishing in the lake has still been good. Trout fishing is now closed. The stairway to the overlook at the falls has been repaired and is now open for use. Migratory birds are becoming more frequent in the park and the deer, turkeys, and other small animals are definitely more active preparing for fall and winter. The water is shut off for the season and all of the flushing restroom buildings and showers are now closed. Drinking water is still available at the Service Building and all of the vault toilets are open. Camping is still open in all of the campgrounds. - Aaron Mason, park superintendent
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Dark-eyed juncos arrived in the area this week. Sparrow-sized juncos are easily identified by their uniformly slate-gray head, back, and breast, along with white outer tail feathers. The bill and belly are whitish. Juncos readily patronize bird feeders, where they prefer to feed on the ground. They are fond of black oil sunflower, white proso millet, cracked corn, peanuts, and grain sorghum. Juncos often feed among tree sparrows, fox sparrows, white-throated sparrows, and white-crowned sparrows. Red oak acorns are dropping like mad throughout Vernon and Crawford counties, and it appears that this year's crop is well above average. Because oaks are abundant and widely distributed, acorns are a food staple for many wildlife species. Acorns are high in fats and carbohydrates and are also storehouses containing proteins, vitamins, calcium, and phosphorus. Because red oak acorns germinate the spring following seedfall, they remain dormant and available for consumption for several months, whereas white oak acorns germinate soon after falling to the ground and become considerably less palatable. Oaks are the primary source of hard mass in our forests in southwestern Wisconsin. Acorn utilization by mammals and birds is extremely high. Studies have shown that 90-100 percent of the acorn crop may be consumed by ground-feeding wildlife. Acorn crops strongly influence the population dynamics of species that are highly dependent on mass abundance, such as the gray squirrel and deer mouse. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Merrick State Park - All the trails in the park are open and in good hiking condition. The trees are in full color throughout the park. We are at peak or near peak color. The Mississippi River has returned to normal levels. The boat dock has been installed at the Upper Boat Landing. The camping reservation period for this year has ended. All campgrounds remain open, but campsites are available on a first come, first served basis. The shower building, sanitary dump station, and drinking fountains are closed for the season. Water is available at the main park office. - Lois Larson, visitor services associate
Perrot State Park - The trees are changing quickly and this weekend should be peak colors at the park. Most of the white pelicans and egrets have headed south but a few may still be seen in Trempealeau Bay or at the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge. Sandhill cranes are gathering in the fields and great blue herons can still be seen. The prairies are showing their late fall colors with some asters, woodland sunflowers and fall grasses such as big bluestem. The shower buildings are closed for the season. The flush toilet building by site#2 will remain open until Oct. 28. The dump station will remain open until the end of October but there will not be water available at that location. Water will be available to fill RVs and camping units at the park maintenance shop. Drinking water is also available at the park headquarters. Campsites 1-50 and 87-95 are still open for reservations until Oct. 31.
Wildcat Mountain State Park - The fall colors are at their prime at the park and the surrounding area. It should be a great viewing weekend. The Kickapoo River is currently at normal conditions. Hiking and horseback riding trails are open and in good condition. Horseback trails close for the season Nov. 14. The water is on at the horse campground. The family and horseback campgrounds are open. The family campground shower building will close for the season Oct. 20. The dump station and campground bubblers are closed for the season. Water is available this weekend at the shower building. - Bob Ramsey, park manager
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - The fall colors are at peak here at the Black River State Forest. Want to see some great color? Hike up the overlook trail at Castle Mound campground or just take a relaxing drive through the forest. Tamarack trees are just starting to change to their fall golden color. All campgrounds are still open, although the showers and dump station have been closed for the year. Temperatures this weekend are expected to be in the 50s with a slight chance of rain on Friday. - Emily Alf, Visitor Services Associate, Black River State Forest
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Chippewa County - Along with the spectacular leaf color changes here in Chippewa County comes the beginning of great fish and game opportunities. Now's the time to hit the water for those fall walleye. Fishermen are catching walleye in good numbers and nice size on rivers and lakes with minnows and white and chartreuse twister tails. Some nice bucks have been harvested in the archery season and hunters are finding scraping activity in the woods. With gun deer season and the rut around the corner, it is a must for hunters to get out into the woods and check the stability of their tree stands, straps, steps and safety harnesses. Good luck out there, and Enjoy! - John Schreiber, conservation warden, Cornell
Eau Claire County -Waterfowl hunters report finding some shooting opportunities for mallards and Canada geese on the Eau Claire River. Hunters at the east end of Lake Altoona are cautioned not to shoot a firearm within 100 yards of a building without permission from the building owner. Anglers on Lake Altoona have been catching some walleye in excess of 20-inches, and bringing some limits of 10 panfish to the boat landing. Archery deer hunters are putting in the time to locate deer and position their stands for success. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire
Chippewa River State Trail - Trail is open the entire length and in good condition. Fall colors are at a little past peak as trees have been shedding leaves from recent strong winds and cool nights. The oaks and aspens are still showing plenty of brown, yellow, and red colors though. It's a fantastic time to do a fall bike ride on the trail. The Chippewa River is running near normal providing excellent fall fishing opportunities. Restrooms and drinking fountain are closed for the season at the Highway 85 wayside and at Caryville.- Calvin Kunkle, ranger
Red Cedar State Trail - Trail is open and in good condition. Fall colors are just passing the peak due to recent strong winds and cool nights but the oak and aspen are still showing bright yellow, red, and brown colors. The Menomonie Depot Visitor Center will be open on weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through October. Visitor Center is closed on week days. Bathrooms and drinking fountain are now closed for the season at Downsville. - Calvin Kunkle, ranger
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Fall is here! Birds are migrating, colors are changing and people are out on the lake walleye fishing. Boat boarding piers and fishing pier have been removed. The drive north on Hwy. 58 to the park is full of reds, yellows, oranges. . Hunting is occurring in the Yellow River Wildlife Area and Buckhorn Wildlife Area. Bow hunting has started in the park and wildlife areas as of Sept 13. Check out hunting maps online or at the park office. Deer can be registered at the park office during open office hours. Park and wildlife areas are in Central Forest, buck only unless a hunter purchased an antlerless public tag for central forest. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate and campground are closed for the season. Parking is in the winter lot on Czech Ave. Park stickers are still required; please use the self-registration. Please do not park in front of the main gate. Hunting in Roche-A-Cri will start Nov. 15. There are areas outside the park open for early bow hunting, small game and trapping. - Heather Wolf, park manager